Digital Serbia Initiative (DSI) presented the findings from its latest research entitled Women in the Serbian Startup Ecosystem, which finds that Serbian women startup founders face a number of additional challenges, specifically regarding investment capital, as compared to those startups led by men.  The research was conducted through the “Venture an Idea” project implemented by the DSI with the support of US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Through its assistance programs, the United States has worked in Serbia for many years to encourage an environment that welcomes and nurtures business – especially smaller businesses and tech firms. Startups and entrepreneurs can and should be the powerhouse of the Serbian economy, and in order to do that they need to include even more women. I hope we will all work together to improve the business environment based on data-driven programs and initiatives,” said Shanley Pinchotti, Director of the USAID’s Office of Democratic Governance and Economic Growth, at the opening of the today’s conference which brought together leading women figures in the Serbian startup community.

Director of the “Venture an Idea” Project, Bojana Tomić Brkušanin pointed out: “Although some results place us significantly above the European average when it comes to the representation of women in the startup ecosystem, others point to the need to provide greater support and incentives for women who decide to undertake a startup or participate in the development of one. According to the survey results, almost half of the startups that participated in the survey (49%) do not have women in management at all, and less than a quarter of startups with male founders have women in management. Founding teams with women have, on average, 41.3% more non-tech founders than just male founding teams. This shows us that increasing the share of founders does not only mean a more gender-equal startup ecosystem but also increases the diversity of skills within the founding teams, which is an important factor in the success of the development of innovative ideas.

The Digital Serbia Initiative, through the Venture an idea project, but also through other programs, is helping to improve Serbia’s startup environment and educational system so that there are more opportunities for youth, young women in particular, to participate in technological fields and take initiatives in the digital ecosystem. Publishing the report Women in the Serbian Startup Ecosystem and gathering representatives of relevant international and domestic organizations is a good direction for further cooperation and joint ventures in this area.